Real Answers from Real Pilots

Getting into the majors

I am currently in the process of enrolling into ATP in Phoenix. I know that there are quite a few steps to getting into a major airline as a pilot. My current career is a automotive technician. I work for Ford. I was looking into working for ups for a while. Ups only hires people that are referred by a current employee. Is this the same with major airlines? Let’s say I want to work for delta. Would I have a higher chance of getting hired in faster if I could be referred by a delta pilot? Or would I still need to be a regional pilot for a while? I know in this world it’s all about who you know and if I could be referred possibly I could into the majors faster. Thank you for any input.

Hi Tyler,

First I have to say I’d be more focused on STARTING my training (maybe studying for my writtens?) then worrying about what Major you plan to work for and how you’re going to get there 6-7yrs from now. Second UPS is a Major airline. Their pilots are some of the most respected and highest paid in the industry. But since you asked Yes and Yes. Yes referrals from current employees are ALWAYS welcome and desirable at all airlines and YES you’re still going to need to be a Regional pilot for a while (not that that’s a bad thing). The Majors are “the Big Leagues” and they want you to gain some experience before they stick you in a heavy with 300 passengers in the back and send you to Europe. Their base requirements require you to have a minimum of 1,000hrs turbo-prop or turbo fan (aka jet) time but to be competitive they want much more. While there is a pilot shortage at the Regionals AND the Majors are hiring as well there are plenty of 5-7yr Regional Capts out there who also have Letters of Recommendation as well. This is a process.

As you said you have quite a few steps ahead of you and nothing is guaranteed.

Adam

1 Like

Hey Tyler,

While recommendations are always a bonus, I would think that recruiters are more interested in what you have done in the past (i.e. on top of your flight time, like volunteer work/military service/check airman etc.) and what your skills are (instruction/management etc).

Either way, a letter of recommendation will not allow you to skip the regionals, don’t plan on it. Like Adam said, I would focus on the matter at hand for the time being, the rest will come.

Yarden

1 Like

Tyler,

While recommendations certainly help, you will absolutely need to spend several years at the regionals before moving onto the major airlines. A recommendation can only get you so far, in the airlines it is experience that really matters the most.

Also, you didn’t say what your education level is, but just so you know, the major airlines almost universally require a four year degree for their pilots.

Chris

1 Like

Thank you all very much for your knowledge in the matter. I realize that I need to worry about studying. Just a good thing to have on my side when the time does come. And thank you for clarifying that there is no skipping the regionals. Also I am a few credits away from having 3 degrees so that won’t be a problem. Again thank you for answering so promptly.

Tyler,

Anytime. That is what we are here for. Feel free to post any other questions you may have.

Chris